Chávez, the Organization of American States, and Democracy in International Law
AbstractThis article examines the Organization of American States (OAS) intervention in the dispute over the democratic character of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s political reforms as a case study of the institutionalization by international organizations of the democratic entitlement. The author first summarizes the democratic entitlement argument before moving to analyze the history of the OAS’s institutional commitment to the concept of democracy protection and promotion. The author argues that the tension between the OAS’s universalist rhetoric and the reality of American hegemony has contributed to what he calls a “post-imperial sensibility” within the organization, which manifests itself in potentially productive ways in the OAS’s operationalization of the democratic reform. The author briefly examines OAS involvement in Venezuela since 2002 as an example of this operationalization and concludes by suggesting that opposition to the democratic entitlement by critical scholars is misplaced, and that efforts to establish it as a principle of international law should be supported.
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